More than 700 hectares of crops have been inundated in the southern Mozambican province of Gaza thanks to heavy rains upstream in the Limpopo River basin, according to Radio Mozambique.

Visiting the flooded area on Friday, Gaza provincial governor Stela da Graca Pinto said at least 190 hectares had been saved thanks to the use of pumps to evacuate the flood waters.

She believed that the overall impact of the rains was highly positive, since they had broken the drought which struck the Limpopo Valley in 2016. These rains have brought hope,” she said, stressing that the province would be able to meet and perhaps surpass the target set for agricultural production this year.

She admitted that the flood wave travelling down the Limpopo has brought some problems”.

“However, we must not allow ourselves to be shaken. We shall continue to work together to overcome the difficulties, she added.

She urged Gaza farmers not to be disheartened, and to continue working to increase their production.

Meanwhile, the National Meteorology Institute (INAM) has warned that heavy rains and strong winds would continue in the central and northern provinces of the country. In the period up to Jan 11, rains of up to 50 millimetres in 24 hours are expected to fall in parts of the Zambezi Valley.

In the far south, rain fell persistently over the weekend in Maputo City and the surrounding areas. Heavy rain, however, is still needed in the Umbeluzi Valley in Maputo Province and in neighbouring Swaziland in order to raise the level of the reservoir at the Pequenos Libombos Dam, which was only 14 per cent full on Thursday.

The Umbeluzi and the Pequenos Libombos reservoirs are the main source of drinking water for Maputo and Matola cities. The government has already banned the use of Umbeluzi water for irrigation, in order to safeguard the water supply for domestic use in greater Maputo.